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"Treating" prejudice: An exposure-therapy approach to reducing negative reactions toward stigmatized groups

"Treating" prejudice: An exposure-therapy approach to reducing negative reactions toward stigmatized groups

Birtel, Michèle D. ORCID: 0000-0002-2383-9197 and Crisp, Richard J. (2012) "Treating" prejudice: An exposure-therapy approach to reducing negative reactions toward stigmatized groups. Psychological Science, 23 (11). pp. 1379-1386. ISSN 0956-7976 (Print), 1467-9280 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612443838)

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Abstract

One of the ways in which therapists treat anxiety disorders is to expose patients to a fear-evoking stimulus within a safe environment before encouraging more positive stimulus-related thoughts. In the study reported here, we adapted these psychotherapeutic principles of exposure therapy to test the hypothesis that imagining a positive encounter with a member of a stigmatized group would be more likely to promote positive perceptions when it was preceded by an imagined negative encounter. The results of three experiments targeting a range of stigmatized groups (adults with schizophrenia, gay men, and British Muslims) supported this hypothesis. Compared with purely positive interventions, interventions in which a single negative encounter was imagined just prior to imagining a positive encounter resulted in significantly reduced prejudice. Furthermore, reduced anxiety uniquely derived from the mixed-valence imagery task statistically explained enhanced intentions to engage positively with the previously stigmatized group in the future.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Intergroup contact, Intergroup dynamics, Imagined contact, Prejudice, Intergroup anxiety, Stigma
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education & Health
Faculty of Education & Health > Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2017 14:54
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/17928

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